South African police destroy thousands of illegal firearms to reduce high crime rate.

In a splash of burning embers, South African police destroyed more than 14,000 firearms to mark International Gun Destruction Day in the furnace of a steel manufacturing plant outside Johannesburg.

South Africa's National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said Thursday more than 11,500 of the firearms that were melted down were illegal, most of them handguns.

Adele Kirsten, spokeswoman for the lobby group Gun Free South Africa said stricter laws since 2001 and the destruction of illegal firearms had halved the country's gun death rate and changed an apartheid-era culture of civilians carrying arms.

But lawyer and firearms lobbyist Martin Hood said his clients in the security industry had seen an increase in the acquisition of firearms because of South Africa's high crime rate and police ineffectiveness.